Sherrie Stockley and her husband Robert McGonigle, 71. Five years ago, McGonigle was diagnosed with a rare-form of cancer. (Contributed photo)

Sherrie Stockley and her husband Robert McGonigle, 71. Five years ago, McGonigle was diagnosed with a rare-form of cancer. (Contributed photo)

South Surrey couple organize march for rare cancer

Vancouver Multiple Myeloma March to be held this Sunday in Burnaby

To raise awareness for a rare, incurable form of cancer, South Surrey resident Sherrie Stockley will lead the first-ever Vancouver Multiple Myeloma March this Sunday.

Stockley describes multiple myeloma as a cancer of plasma cells that are found in bone marrow. Her husband, Robert McGonigle, 71, was diagnosed with the disease five years ago.

“His spirit and energy level is amazing considering what he goes through, he’s such a positive person,” Stockley said.

McGonigle went through three years of treatment, and had complete kidney failure caused by the myeloma. He has to go to Surrey Memorial Hospital four times a week for dialyses, and each session lasts about four hours.

“They don’t call it remission, they just kind of say it’s at bay. He still takes a maintenance drug that keeps things at a level that’s not active. He gets checked every three months for a change in his blood work.”

Stockley said there are many challenges of doing dialysis, however, “if it weren’t for the dialysis he wouldn’t be here today.”

Although the disease is incurable, it is treatable, she said.

A trouble with the disease is that patients may become resistant to certain drug therapies. Canada, compared to the United States, has fewer approved treatment options, Stockley said.

“There are a whole realm of drugs not approved yet… Eventually, that’s what happens to people with myeloma, they just become resistant to drugs and that’s one of the reasons why it’s incurable.”

Money from the event, scheduled for 11 a.m. at the Burnaby Lake Rowing Club, will go to Myeloma Canada.

More on the event can be found at myelomamarch.ca